Capitol Communicator introduces “Best Crew” a new series brought to you by Eli Meir Kaplan, a Washington, D.C.-based commercial photographer and director. The series “Best Crew” features talent behind the scenes of photo, film and video productions. Our inaugural post features Will Iversen: Gaffer and partner of Chesapeake Grip and Lighting LLC
How long have you been in business and how did you get started?
One of my best friends in high school made low budget movies and I thought it was sort of fun. We kept getting a little better and learning new tricks with each project so the natural progression seemed to be pursuing it as a career! Right out of college I started working at a lighting rental house and started freelancing from there, so about 20 years now, professionally at least.
Who are some of your clients and why do they love working with you?
The work in the D.C. area is so diverse. One day I could be working on a commercial for a major brand and the next could be a government training video. I’d like to think I leave a good impression with everyone I work with but I think most clients appreciate me for just being a positive and flexible crew member. There are so many unpredictable things that happen on set, it’s super important to stay flexible and not get rattled when things don’t go exactly as planned.
What is your most invaluable tool?
Well, It isn’t technically a tool. But I use a C Stand in every setup. It’s so versatile. In a difficult situation you can mount a light on it or use it to grab a tree branch, so many uses! Definitely the most frequently used piece of gear on the truck.
What gear/kit purchase have you made that you wish you didn’t?
I regret buying some of the first generation LED lights. Each unit was a little different color balance wise and random diodes would go out. But 15 years later they are in a much better place.
Who has inspired and helped you along the way?
Too many names to list. But I like to think that everyday I’m utilizing a piece of knowledge from everyone I have admired or been enlightened by over the years. Mentors and experienced people that know the craft are so important in this business.
What do you love about the work you do?
I love that everyday is a little different and usually somewhere different. It’s definitely not an office job. I also love the camaraderie that is always present on a film set. Especially when it is a crew that has worked together for years. It’s like a well-oiled machine. But everyone is generally having fun.
What was a favorite production you’ve worked on and what made it special?
I enjoyed working on the HBO series “The Wire ” mainly because it was pretty much my first long run of a series/show that I had ever worked on. It was a lot of hard work but I learned so much and made lifelong friends from it.
What advice would you give to others who are starting out in your field?
This can spill over into many other fields as well but apprenticing is really important. Also working in a rental house for at least a couple of years is the best way to learn all the basics and make contacts along the way. This has been a proven successful path for tons of technicians over the years.
What are your top five favorite movies?
You’re off to a great start! Will is one of the greats!!